President giving one finger victory salute in press conference
The President was in the Q & A period of his live press conference just now...He has been ribbing the press good naturedly, and showing that he is both game and unwilling to be bullied now that he's got a second term. At the same time, he is friendly and gracious. He seems to be respectful even as he points out the press violating the "one question rule". He points it out, and then answers the whole question. He's got breathing room now, and this time around is already looking different. There are several cabinet changes coming, and W seems to be setting up a front of unifying outreach, at least politically.
Speaking of unifying...does anyone think Arlen Specter's "warning"
was an unexpected slap at the president? No, I think it was a mutually beneficial political statement. Specter is one of Bush's bridges to the middle. The fact that Bush was a prime mover in Specter's political career, by most conservative accounts at least, tells me that they have some sort of prearranged agreement. I am not suggesting disingenuous behavior here, but I am suggesting political compromise that counterintuitively helps Bush by allowing for public display of both dissent from and tacit support for these so-called RINOs. Bush knows when it comes down to it Specter owes him but it helps Bush more politically to have an ally restraining him than an enemy, even knowing that his enemies will publicly use the dissent of the ally against him. He knows that allowing for the Specters and the McHaGar(lately just HaGar, but post-election look for McCain to reappear in the triumvirate) costs him no real capital, and creates a political buffer between himself and the people he *can't* make deals with. The second tier *can*, and he's already spoken to them behind closed doors about this, betcher bottom dollar.
More on that later maybe, but just hearing that Arafat is dead! That's what the radio is saying, anyway. Nothing on Google news yet. No one knows really. Bush said "God bless his soul." in his press conference. French doctors are saying he is not dead, so it's up in the air.
Anyway, that was a big gripe of conservatives during the election, right? Laura Ingraham was always angry at McHaGar, because they were being used against the Bush campaign. They seemed like traitors to her, especially after all Bush did for them! Well that's true on one level...it bugged me too. It's hard to watch that, and perhaps our rankling at it was part of the benefit of having three. The left ran with every quote from the dissenters, the ones who suddenly appeared to break with their party. But not one of them endorsed Kerry did they? In fact, that's why McCain had to disengage and support Bush. He was in it to build capital for a presidential run in '08, or get a Sec Def job in a possible Kerry presidency but he was too valuable to Bush, and had to take sides in the end. So now that he can't really hurt Bush, he can go back to building his credit for the primary in '08. Fair enough, and the Dems can keep howling all they want, if they want, that there is dissent in the Republican party. The fact is, it's political genius judo-chess.
So on the Iraq war, the bridge people was McCain, Lugar and Chuck Hagel. On the judicial committee in the Senate, putting in a guy who owes Bush big and who first thing after a Bush win comes out and "slaps" Bush in the press on the abortion issue is such judo-chess! The premise is that whomever he appoints will be opposed most fervently by the Democrat minority. They will probably try to be mature about it this time around(It might get dirty but it will start out reasoned) but really this is the big fight coming in D.C., don't fool yourself.
The big thing I saw at the RNC this year was the appearance of compromise between divisions. Lots of people showed willingness to show a big tent of reasonably conflicting points under a general ideological agreement around the middle of conservatism. I assumed this was mostly political expedience for the election campaign, and I still assume that. But looking down the road, and knowing that I'm certainly not the furthest sighted guy in the party I am also assuming that some of these compromises were made for after the election season too. There are real political divisions among these conservatives, and that's why Specter isn't being disingenuous, nor were any of the McHaGar triumvirate. But Specter won't be selling out the president when it comes down to it.
Ah, and Specter is now compiling a transcript of what was actually said from a tape and is preparing a clarifying statement. Rush is saying this now on the radio, and is leading in to the tendency of the left to hail any sign of disunity. We'll see what he says...I agree with Rush when he says that he doesn't trust Specter to be a Republican. But that's where the Judo comes in, I think. If the Democrats present a responsible party to switch to, it's possible the Rhode Island Republican would turn for his own political interests. That's the game, but meantime Bush will be using him for the party as a strength that looks like a weakness. Very Sun Tzu, very Judo.
I'm just sayin'
posted by M@ at 9:30 AM